Tigers Lead After First Night of NCAA Championships

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Fred Bousquet became the first individual to clock a sub-19-second 50-yard freestyle this morning and duplicated the feat this evening as he went 18.90 in winning the event for the third consecutive year in a row, the third man to accomplish that feat. After the first night of the 2005 NCAA Mens Swimming and Diving Championships at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, the Tigers lead the overall team race with 172 points and are followed by Arizona in second-place with 130 points.

One of the toughest things to do is to experience a high, recover from it and get back up, AU Coach David Marsh said of Bousquets two 50 free swims. Fred had two swims tonight. The (200 free) relay he was a little disappointed with some technical things he did and then he came back in the 50 free and I really sensed that he really wanted to win it. I am really proud of the way he willed himself to win tonight. He is the first person to go under the 19-second barrier and he set the standard for the entire NCAA population in the glamour event.

Bousquet, who set the University Aquatic Center ablaze this morning with his 18.74 in the 50 free prelims, went out in 9.38 seconds, trailing both Duje Draganja of California (9.29) and teammate Ryan Wochomurka (9.32) at the turn. However, after flipping, he busted a 9.52, the fastest second 25-yards in the field by two tenths of a second over Draganja (9.72), who finished second at 19.01. Wochomurka was sixth with a 19.45, his third top-eight finish of his career. Junior George Bovell swam in the consolation finals, clocking a 19.62 to finish 11th.

That wasnt my main goal, the main goal tonight was to win and get the most points you can for the team, Bousquet said when asked about going under 19 seconds for the second time today. Ever since this morning when I went 18 point 7, I couldnt stop thinking about it. When I went back to the hotel I wasnt able to take a nap. Every time I closed my eyes I would start thinking about it again and again. When I came back tonight I decided to relax and do as any Auburn swimmer would do and just try and be a champion.

Bousquet joined David Edgar of Tennessee (1970-71-72) and Joe Bottom of Southern Cal (1975-1976-1977) in winning the title in three successive seasons.

I had it in my mind to break 19 (seconds), Bousquet said when asked about going under 19 seconds during the prelim session. I knew that my time from last year (2004 NCAA Championships * 21.10 SCM) converted to 18-something. First I didnt think I would do it in the morning and I really didnt think I would go down to 18-7. I was shocked.

The Tigers title defense started with a blistering 1:16.00 in the 200 freestyle relay, which bettered the NCAA record of 1:16.09 set by Auburn in 2004 by nine one-hundredths of a second, but it will be California that holds the newly established NCAA record at 1:15.78 as the Tigers finished second to the Golden Bears. In a race that could be the beginning of the fastest NCAA meet of all time, Wochomurka led off for the Tigers with a 19.48 split, putting the Tigers in fourth after the first leg. Bousquet was next on the relay, splitting a field-best 18.64 and bringing the Tigers into second place before giving way to freshman Bryan Lundquist, who split 19.14. Bovell brought the Tigers home in a time of 18.74 for his 50, the second-fastest anchor of the night.

Junior Eric Shanteau tried to give Floridas Ryan Lochte all he could handle in the 200 IM, finishing in a personal-best time of 1:44.15 but it was Lochte who set the NCAA record at 1:41.71 in winning the event. The second-place finish was the highest NCAA finish of Shanteaus career, bettering his fourth-place finish from 2004. Also swimming the championships of the 200 IM was junior Doug Van Wie, who placed fourth with a time of 1:44.69, which was also a personal-best time.

Throughout the race I wasnt swimming real relaxed, and I wasnt feeling real smooth, Shanteau said. I cant argue with my time, its my best time, but I wanted to go one-forty-three tonight. But I am happy with my place and I cant argue with a best-time.

Sophomore Steven Segerlin scored on the 1-meter for the first time in his career as the Webster, N.Y., native posted a 370.25, a career-best and school record, to earn a fourth-place finish. Teammate senior Matt Bricker also earned his first top-eight finish on that board as he went 328.40 in the finals to place eighth. The pair had been seeded second (Segerlin * 345.30) and sixth (Bricker * 321.60) coming out of prelims.

It was a really intense final. I dont think I have seen one-meter scores that high in I dont know how long, Segerlin said. I think all of us went our personal-best. It was really exciting and I am really proud.

The Tigers closed out the first session with a third-place finish in the 400 medley relay (3:07.92) as Van Wie led off with a 46.35 on the backstroke, the second-fastest leadoff. Sophomore Sean Osborne had the duties on the breaststroke leg (53.80) before giving way to Bousquet who went 46.05 on the fly leg. Bovell closed out the event for the Tigers with a 41.72 split on the freestyle leg, the second-best anchor leg in the field.

Senior BJ Jones picked up Auburns first individual points of the meet as the LaGrange, Ga., placed 14th in the 500 free with a time of 4:19.97. His placing made him four-for-four in finishing in the top 16 in the middle-distance event at the NCAA Championships.

Swimming the 200 IM consolation was junior Kurt Cady, who finished 13th with a time of 1:47.21, and freshman Rory Connell, who was 15th with a time of 1:47.91.

It was a great day overall. I thought tonight some of the keys were Doug Van Wie moving up in the 200 IM and then leading off the 400 medley relay. George Bovell really came to life and did a good job as well. Two divers going top-eight on the boards is the biggest event of the day for us. I am very excited, Marsh said after the competition.

The Tigers, who are going after their third consecutive and fifth title overall, return to the pool on Friday for the 200 medley relay, the 400 IM, the 100 fly, the 200 free, the 100 breast, the 100 back, the 3-meter and the 800 free relay.

-- Courtesy Auburn University